Posted on April 19, 2018

Qatar National Library (QNL) today hosted a lecture on the way Qatar’s changing natural environment defines its past, present, and future, and what that means for similar regions around the world, as well as other planets. Planetary scientist Dr. Essam Heggy’s presentation on ‘Understanding Space Exploration and the Natural Forces that Shaped the Qatar Peninsula’ capped a week of events celebrating QNL’s grand opening.

Dr. Heggy, a planetary scientist at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, and a ROSETTA co-investigator at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, discussed how climate evolution has shaped the history of Earth, as well as that of other planets in the solar system. In the case of early residents of the Qatar Peninsula, they may have been one of the few cultures that developed a scientific heritage associated with both desert and coastal changes, including groundwater and sea levels, dune movements, coral reef evolution, and shallow-water navigation.

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Talking about climate evolution, during his lecture Dr. Heggy, said: “Our climate is changing, and the only way to survive it is to understand it.” Dr. Heggy talked about the meaning of Qatar’s map, and presented his views about the changes in Qatar’s coastline. He said: “The climate and environment in Qatar have shaped the society. The people of Qatar were able to intuitively comprehend that the coastline was changing.” Dr. Heggy also elaborated on the ways space exploration allows scientists to better understand water and desert evolution on Earth, and how technologies that are being designed to explore water in the solar system benefit from being tested in Earth’s deserts. He concluded with an examination of Qatar’s current changing climate, and how understanding and adapting to it will affect the nation’s growth.

In her concluding remarks, Dr. Sohair Wastawy, Executive Director, QNL, said: “We are grateful to Dr Heggy for his informative lecture today. Dr. Heggy will be directing the Science Book Forum at QNL in September, and we look forward to that taking shape. “We also welcome the opportunity to provide a forum for scientific debate, and we will hear a different view from today’s lecture during the ‘Qatar on Maps’ talk, taking place at QNL on April 29 at 6:00pm.”

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